Inbound vs Outbound Marketing: which is best in B2B?
10 February 2022
Inbound and outbound marketing are two very different things, that can produce very different results. But what are the differences between the two, is one truly better than the other, and is there a perfect balance between the two for your B2B marketing strategy?
Let’s first discuss the difference between outbound and inbound marketing. Outbound marketing is when you essentially go to the buyer, thrusting out your message straight into their faces (e.g., email marketing and paid advertising) with the idea of generating curiosity in your brand or services. On the other hand, inbound marketing is designed to draw people in of their own accord, usually when they are already in the midst of doing research about the kind of things you have to offer. Both have their benefits (one perhaps a few more than the other, but I’ll get to that in a minute). The important thing to note is that trying out a mixture of the two and seeing what works best for your agency on individual campaigns is always a smart thing to keep in mind.
The nature of outbound marketing means it’s usually paid for, which in turn means it loses a lot of its effectiveness as soon as the money pot runs dry. Outbound marketing also has to fight through a lot of noise in order to be heard, as you’re trying to grab someone’s attention for a service they might not have even been thinking about using. Instead of drawing them in by saying ‘this is the service for you’, you’re trying to tell them ‘You need this service’. This can obviously take quite a bit of convincing. You’re essentially casting a massive net in an attempt to catch a single fish every time you conduct outbound marketing such as cold calling or email blasts. Whilst may have been much more effective in the past, the attitude of B2B buyers has since changed quite dramatically. This means that overall outbound marketing is becoming more and more costly and less and less ROI efficient. Not to mention that we’re having to become more and more creative in order to catch someone’s eye in the buzz of social media and thousands of emails sitting in their inboxes.
Inbound marketing, however, is where the majority of B2B marketers will find their focus going into nowadays, for a variety of reasons. Inbound marketing targets people who are already partially down the buying process of the kind of B2B services that your agency offers. You are targeting an audience already full of valuable prospective leads, so can tailor your content more specifically to them than if you were sending out some much more generalised outbound marketing. Inbound marketing is also naturally a lot more…well…natural, for lack of a better word. Because it’s more organic content that people are actively seeking out rather than something you’re trying to push onto people, you’ll find that inbound marketing costs a heck of a lot less than outbound. This in turn means that your ROI increases too. In fact, a recent survey found that inbound marketing can produce almost 60% more leads than outbound marketing.
But this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to cut out all of your outbound marketing, merely, incorporate it into your inbound marketing. Focus on your inbound marketing, but, if you do want to vie for the attention of new visitors to B2B, ensure your outbound marketing (whatever form it takes) directs the person to either a specific page on your website or social media that further explains who you are and what you do. There’s no point in just sending them to your website, remember, they’re more likely to be new to B2B marketing – they’ll have no clue where to go! Now for your inbound marketing. As I mentioned before, inbound marketing is for those that have already done some research into the kind of services they need (aka, yours). SEO here is crucial to ensure you are showing up high in those search results. Ads and social media are also massive helps in drawing people in to your website where they can find better in-depth information. Achieve this through blogs, white papers and social media to show that you are a leading authority on B2B marketing.
Simply put, inbound marketing is more effective at gaining the trust and attention of high quality, relevant leads than outbound marketing. Consider focusing a little less time on the outbound and a little more on the inbound, and you’ll start to see higher ROI’s and lower costs. Good luck!